Monday, June 30, 2008

Life on the Road

Ever wonder what it's like to be a minor leaguer on the road? Bus rides, hotels, meal money, and plenty of time to bond. Life on the road is at the heart of the minor league experience, and from time to time, The Blog will give you an inside look, courtesy of the players who are living the dream.

Today, third baseman Zach Lutz gives us his take on the travel:
"Basically, on the bus trips what we do is just clown around, talk baseball, watch movies, and try to catch up on some rest to be prepared for our games. My family usually comes to most of the games and after the games I usually go out for dinner with them. After games the guys on the team usually have interviews to do and then we have a kind of buffet-style dinner that is prepared for us.

There is a lot of rest that is needed because we get to the field 4 or 5 hours before game time! That's the part that's usually a surprise to fans. We go over fundamentals and take ground balls and batting practice. It's a long day, but we're playing baseball for a living, so no one is complaining.

The road trips are fun because we get to know each other better. The best thing about our team this year is everyone gets along. We are always having a good time. That is probably one of the most important things in baseball. If you have a good team chemistry (and some talent), then you will win ball games. We get to play baseball for our job so we are having fun with it, but when it comes down to it we are in it to win it.

Life on the road is enjoyable, but just like when you're at home, you have to stay focused and make sure you get your rest in order to be ready for game time."

-- Zach

Saturday, June 28, 2008

It Ain't Easy Being a Superhero

Tonight is Superhero Night at the of my favorites. I'm a closet comic book geek, and I'm officially outing myself. I hide it fairly well, but I also know the name of Batman's dog (Ace), which alternate Earth the Justice Society was formed on (Earth-Two), and the origin of just about every hero you can name.

I mean, what could be better than being at the ballpark, and being Batman? Two childhood fantasies rolled into one!

But I have to tell you, being a superhero isn't as easy as it looks. Sure, I have the cowl and the scowl, the flowing cape, and the bulging muscles (courtesy of some well-placed styrofoam).

Aaaaand that's about where it ends.

I have no answer for the dozens of kids on the field who scream at me to "do something super," and tell me -- with disgust in their voices and their eyes -- that I'm not the real Batman...and even if I was, Wolverine's better and could kick my butt.

Every part of my costume from the utility belt down is way too tight (and I'm thanking Bob Kane profusely for imagining a cape when he created the Dark Knight, to hide as much as possible).

And sure, ol' Bats has had to deal with family tragedy, battle the most nefarious villains of all time, and save Gotham from certain doom time and time again...but has he ever had to pull tarp? I don't think so. The sweat, the mud, the boos from the unhappy fans, the worry that my aforementioned cape would get rolled up along with the tarp and take me with it like a scene out of Bugs Bunny, and the general embarrassment of thousands of fans watching the whole scenario is enough to send even the likes of Bruce Wayne scurrying to hide out in the Batcave.

So next time you're reading those comics and thinking about how great it would be to be faster than a speeding bullet or able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, think about Superhero Night with the Cyclones, and be careful what you wish for!

And next time you see a superhero (or a pirate, or a medieval knight, or any of the other one-in-a-million sights you see at a Cyclones game) running around the field or pulling tarp in the rain, send a few cheers our way.

And for Pete (Ross') sake, keep that kryptonite behind some lead, wouldja?
-- Dave

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Rolling Roster

You ready for this?

Matias Carrillo is transferred to the Kingsport roster, but will stay in Brooklyn. Eric Beaulac is transferred to the Kingsport roster (and will actually go to Kingsport). Ike Davis is assigned to Brooklyn after being signed by the Mets. Davis will wear #43. Nick Giarraputo is transferred to the Savannah roster. Davis is switching to #19. Matias Carrillo is transferred back to Brooklyn (where he was the whole time). Ryan Church begins a rehab assignment with Brooklyn. Church will wear #19. Davis will switch back to #43. Brandon Kawal is transferred to the Kingsport roster, but will stay in Brooklyn. Dan Murphy begins a rehab assignment in Brooklyn. No one knows what number Murphy will wear.

Those are just some of the changes the Brooklyn roster has experienced in the last, oh, two days or so. Start to see how it can get a little complicated and confusing?

At our level, the roster changes literally almost every day. I'm in at 8:45am-ish (even though Kawal believes I show up for work in time for first pitch and leave as soon as the last out is made) to update that roster and get it to the printer so we can get our inserts in time to be handed out when the gates open. Usually, approximately 20 seconds after I get it all laid out and sent, someone else is added, removed, or has their number changed.

Sometimes I know in advance, and sometimes I know if I see a new guy walk in the back door...or an old guy with a new never really know until you see the player in uniform on the field.

Some number changes are legendary in the press box. Luz Portobanco once switched numbers because his original one was apparently stolen and later seen on a guy at the gas station down the road. Dylan Owen switched between 40 and 30 more times than Ralph Henriquez against Pat Venditte.

So if you see a player enter the game and he's not on your roster, don't worry...he might not be on mine, either. And by the time he's on both of ours, he might have a different name (Roberto Solano became Ambiorix Concepcion), number (this means you, Owen), or team (has anyone seen Derran Watts?), anyway.

So sit back, and cheer for the guys on the field...whoever they are! As long as it says "Brooklyn" on the front, that's all that really matters!

-- Dave

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Borough of Church's (and no, that's not a typo)

Get it? Instead of "Borough of Churches?" Because Ryan Church is going to play here? So it's "Church's borough?" Get it? Oh well. Maybe everyone doesn't get a kick out of puns and punctuation the way I do. It's the curse of growing up in a house with two teachers.

The point is, Ryan Church is going to be rehabbing with the Cyclones tonight. Church was having a breakout season for the Mets before an ugly collision with Yuniel Escobar's knee on a double play that left him bloody and concussed (one of my favorite words, but from experience I can tell you one of the worst feelings you can have) and put him out of action since June 6th.

Church is now making his way back to the bigs, and is slated to become the 11th Met to rehab with the Cyclones (can you name the other 10? Answers below). Traditionally, seeing a Mets star in Brooklyn has been among the highlights of the summer for Cyclones fans. Tsuyoshi Shinjo was the first, and helped bring the Cyclones' popularity overseas. Paul LoDuca signed autographs till midnight (and hit a home run), Cliff Floyd stood with kids on the field for the National Anthem. It's always interesting when a major leaguer enters the already-energetic atmosphere of Brooklyn baseball.

So come out to the ballpark tonight (stop's barely drizzling, and there are great seats still available), and cheer on Ryan Church and the Cyclones!
  • See what Ryan Church had to say on BCTV after taking BP at KeySpan Park
-- Dave

PS: Shinjo, Tom Martin, Joe McEwing, Mike Stanton, Kaz Matsui, Floyd, Alay Soler, Moises Alou, LoDuca, and Ramon Castro are the other 10 Mets to rehab with the Cyclones, in that chronological order. Did you get them all?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pizza Party!

Elizabeth Lombardi is the Cyclones' Community Relations Manager, and organizes many of the team's initiatives throughout the borough, and beyond.

When I tell people that I work for the Brooklyn Cyclones, they always ask me "What do you do during the off season?" Well, just like everyone else who works here, I'm quite busy promoting the Cyclones -- and I do so through various community programs.

You may have a heard of a few of them (and if you haven't, you will now) – Take Your Base (June 28th), Diamond Dreams, S.T.R.I.K.E. & one of my favorites, the Cyclones Fundraising Program (CFP).

The CFP is designed to help schools raise funds by selling Cyclones tickets (kind of like a candy sale, but baseball lasts much longer than chocolate!). Students are given incentives to encourage greater sales. Top-selling classes can win free Cyclones tickets, autographed items and even calls visits from Cyclones players!

Yesterday morning, I was accompanied by Pee Wee and two of our pitchers, Mike Lynn & Eric Beaulac, as we went to congratulate the 5th grade class (Class 5-205) of P.S. 236 for selling the most ticket vouchers.

The students were thrilled to see the players walk into their classroom (and maybe even more ecstatic to learn that they'd be getting free pizza)! After lunch, Mike & Eric signed autograph, took pictures and gave some pitching advice to the top selling student. Thomas, sold 106 vouches and will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the Thursday, June 26th game vs. the Aberdeen Ironbirds.

Seeing the kids interact with the Cyclones is one of my favorite parts of the job. The interaction reminds me of stories of the Dodgers living in Brooklyn, and being "regular neighborhood guys." I like to think we're creating a whole new batch of memories for a new generation of Brooklyn baseball fans, who will grow up with the Cyclones.

I would like to thank all the schools that participated in the Cyclones Fundraising Program;

P.S. 100, P.S. 163, P.S. 193, P.S. 217, P.S. 222, P.S.236

We hope to see you, and others, again next year!

-- Elizabeth

Friday, June 20, 2008

Switching Things Up

I've been playing or watching baseball for just about all of my 32-plus years, and I can honestly say I've never seen anything like this.

Staten Island pitcher Pat Venditte is a "switch pitcher," meaning he can pitch with both arms, righty and lefty. The ambidextrous (or amphibious, according to Steve) feat is such a rarity that no one really knows what the rules are surrounding the situation. Can he switch mid-inning? Mid-batter? Mid-pitch?

And everyone's favorite question...what if he faces a switch hitter?

Well, we found out the hard way on Thursday night when Brooklyn's Ralph Henriquez, a switch-hitting catcher, stepped to the plate. Venditte was throwing righty, so Henriquez was hitting lefty. But then Venditte switched to lefty, so Henriquez switched to righty. So Venditte switched back to righty, and Henriquez switched back to lefty. On and on it went until finally the umpires had to stop them both before they got too dizzy.

After much discussion, it was determined that each player is allowed to switch once per at-bat, but the hitter switches first, and the pitcher switches last. So after all that, poor Ralph had to bat righty against the righty anyway, something he later told me he hadn't done in years.

He struck out, unfortunately, but the at-bat became an instant classic and a part of Cyclones lore.

We always tell you to expect the unexpected at KeySpan Park...but even we didn't expect this!

-- Dave

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Opening Day Recap

Not a lot of time to write the last few days, with preparation for Opening Day going on. Lots of late nights, running around, deadlines, and more hard work in general than I like to do. But, the big day finally arrived on Tuesday, and went off without a hitch.

In fact (knock on wood, fingers crossed, and every other superstition partaken), it seemed to go more smoothly on the front office side than ever before. Maybe after seven-plus years, we're getting the hang of things!

The banners were hung, the fans filled the park, the players greeted the fans on the steps (in what has become a favorite KeySpan Park tradition), and the season got underway.

On the field, the Cyclones did what they normally on Opening Day, and beat the Staten Island Yankees. The Cyclones are 7-1 in home openers, and 4-1 against the Yankees in the first game of the season. On Tuesday, it was a 3-1 win for Brooklyn, thanks to outstanding pitching from our Pedro Martinez, Jimmy Johnson, Wendy Rosa, and Yury Santana, and timely hitting by Zach Lutz and John Servidio.

Off the field, it was more of the great entertainment that makes a night at KeySpan Park so unique and so much fun. Human bowling balls, dizzy bat races, giant seagulls, clowns, stilt walkers, face painters, jugglers, and so much more.

One game down, without a hitch. We're only going to keep getting better, so get your tickets today to make sure you join the party this summer!

-- Dave

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Martinez and Santana to pitch for Brooklyn! And Reese to play shortstop!

OK, so it’s not Pedro Martinez, Johan Santana, or Pee Wee Reese (well, actually, it is Pedro Martinez, but not that Pedro Martinez. Ours is Pedro P. Martinez. No relation. And to make things even more confusing, our Pedro will also be wearing #45).

We officially met the Cyclones last night, and there are some familiar faces and familiar names to go along with a brand new crop of prospects who’ll be wearing the Brooklyn jersey this summer.

Check out the roster and see who you'll be cheering for in 2008.

The team flew and drove in to Brooklyn and had their first workout on Saturday, under the lights at KeySpan Park. Well, they had half a workout – and then the heavens opened with end-of-the-world type of rain – but at least we got to see our first glimpse.

Word on the street is that this will be one of the best offensive clubs the Cyclones have had, and a number of Mets draft picks are already here, with a few more who might be on the way.

The team will be working out again on Sunday and Monday, so if we can get through one of those practices without a flash flood, I’ll get you a more detailed update on who and what to look for this summer.

-- Dave

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Swingin' For the Fences

For the last few months, we've been developing what I think is one of the coolest additions ever to -- an online home run derby called Swingin' For The Fences (SFF), brought to you by Fillmore Real Estate.

SFF lets you take your hacks inside a virtual version of KeySpan Park. You can take aim at the signature scoreboard, neon lights, and more! And watch what happens when you actually hit the targets (spoiler alert: especially the roller coaster at the top of the screen).

It's loads of fun, and incredibly addicting (I've been able to disguise hours of unproductive home run hitting as "website research"). Even if it might take you a while to get the hang of it...Steve, this means you.

Right now, I'm the undisputed champ...check out the high scores if you don't believe me! (I admit, it's not 100% fair since I've been the one working on the game throughout its development, but hey, you take every advantage you can get, right?).

So click here, grab a bat, and start Swingin' For The Fences to see if you can knock me off the throne!

And stay tuned throughout the season...we'll give away prizes for top scorers and do a live derby at the ballpark between innings of every game!

-- Dave

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Deadline Day

This is when working for a Short-Season team gets interesting. The draft took place last week, and this morning I got a preliminary roster from the Mets (nope...can't tell you who's on it, yet). Tomorrow -- tomorrow -- is the print deadline for the Game Program and the Media Guide, meaning KJ and I (and my trusty interns, Gus and Neil) have one day to gather info and pictures on these players, lay them out in the books, and get them to the printers.

I mean, I know the Cyclones have a history of doing a lot in 24 hours, but this is ridiculous!

It's 9:30pm right now, and we're just about finished. Next, we have to hope that the guys printed in the books will actually play for the Cyclones at some point this season!

Stay tuned...

-- Dave

Sunday, June 8, 2008

24 - The Agony of Da Feet

24 straight hours of baseball. 12 games in a row. No sleep. Lots of pain. Three players sent to the hospital for X-rays (seriously). All in the name of $15,000 raised for charity. (And it's not too can still make a donation!)

I should explain that initially, my idea was to bring a laptop into the dugout and do a live blog update every half hour. Unfortunately, we don't have a that made it kind of difficult. Instead, what follows is an amalgam of some notes I took, my memories, and things I may or may not have imagined in a sleep-deprived state of delirium.

As you know, on Friday at noon, my colleagues and I began a charity event called 24 Hours of Baseball, and played straight through until noon the next day. "Sounds like fun," or "What a great idea" are the two responses I usually get when I explain the whole thing. I can assure you that it was neither.

OK, it was fun for the first oh, say, 10 hours or so. After that, "fun" wouldn't be one of my top ten words to describe it.

The stats and game details aren't all that important (except, of course, that I went 9-for-20 and was the only person to play in every single inning...unfortunately, .450 was not only my batting average, but I think my fielding percentage, as well). We won three games and tied one. The other eight games? Those aren't important either.

Here's a semi-time-stamped recap of some of the more memorable moments:

Friday, June 6 -- 11:45 am
  • My teammates and I are getting stretched and warming up. Not Steve, though. ("We're about to play baseball for a whole day. I think I'll get pretty warmed up doing that.")
  • My patented "bounce around and scream" motivational tactic seems to be having a mixed effect on my colleagues. Some look like they're getting fired up. Some are just laughing at me, and some look like they might be planning to kill me at some point in the next 24 hours. It's also tiring me out before we even get started. Not a good sign.
Friday, June 6 -- 12:00 pm
  • We're underway! Taking on our arch-rivals, the Beat Writers. Mahoney is on the mound, and the team behind him is primed for the big day. We proceed to immediately make two errors and let up some unearned runs.
  • After a walk in my first at-bat, in my second time to the plate, I crush a ball into the left-center gap. My first thought is "triple." As I near first base, my next thought is "oh God, I'm not going to make it to second base." It seemed like the harder I ran, the further away someone was moving second base. I pulled in with a double, did the Jose Reyes "point to the sky thing" and secretly wished someone would bring me some oxygen. Only 23 more hours to go!
Friday, June 6 -- 1:30 pm
  • With the game well in hand (they don't call them the "Beat" Writers for nothing. We beat them every time they step on the field), my thoughts turned to more important food.
"Hey Steve, when is lunch coming?"
"I ordered some pasta and meatballs for about 6:00"
"Great! That's dinner. When is lunch coming?"
"I kind of thought 6:00 would be our first meal."
"So when is lunch coming?"
  • Needless to say, food preparation was not one of our strengths. We bumped the Gargiulo's order up a few hours (BEST meatballs I've ever had in my life) and figured we'd play the rest by ear.
Friday, June 6 -- 2:oo pm
  • Highlight of the day for me. My 2-year-old daughter came down on the field between games and ran around barefoot in the grass. She also proved that she catches better than most of the people on my team.
  • We upped the level of competition from the Beat Writers and took on the 10-year-olds from Good Shepard Little League. We tried to intimidate the little buggers, er, Little Leaguers, by sending our very own Paul Bunyan, 6' 4" John Haley to the mound. It didn't work. They lit him up like a Christmas tree and went all Rickey Henderson on us, stealing at will and throwing our defense into (more) chaos. Eventually, Steve came in to pitch, struck out the side, and fired the ball off the mound like Turk Wendell...against 10-year olds. Even with his brilliance on the mound...against 10-year was no use. Remember that scene in Gremlins when Gizmo gets water on him and starts to multiply? That's what it was like. They were everywhere! Our first loss of the day. Many more to come.
  • Steve, Brendan, and Gary all signed autographs after the game...before any of them even got their first hit!
Friday, June 6 -- 4:oo pm
  • Don't remember much about this one. I know we made a thrilling comeback in the last inning to wind up with a tie, though. Rebecca and Liz both came up huge with bombs over a drawn-in infield (that'll teach them to try to show up the girls), and in the most unexpected development at the plate since Game Six, Ricky Viola got a hit (an actual hit!) to drive in two runs. He tucked the ball inside the first-base bag and down the right field line. One Shining Moment blared on the stadium speakers.
Friday, June 6 -- 6:oo pm
  • Ouch. And I mean that in every way possible. This was the game when things took a decided turn for the worse. A few high throws reminded me that my shoulder was cracked. Steve removed his, ahem, "protective equipment" at exactly the wrong time, and in general, everyone started to move a little more slowly. A sampling of some of the quotes from the Cyclones dugout:
"My foot is killing me."
"My throat hurts."
"My back is tightening up."
"Does anyone have any Advil?"
"What time is it?"
"How much longer do we have?"
"Whose stupid idea was this, anyway?"
  • It didn't help that we were getting absolutely crushed. We gave up 13 runs in the first two innings...before we got our first hit of the game! Eventually we scored a few runs and at least gave ourselves hope. Brendan told me "It's 13-4! Eight or nine home runs, and we're right back in this thing!" We did not hit eight or nine home runs.
Now is a good time to mention that RCN did a great thing, and donated $50 for every run we scored! This meant that even when we got smoked 13-4, we raised another $200 for great charities! Chris Nervegna got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, and commented that, while his leg was throbbing and swollen, "it was worth it." The "money for runs" donation also gave us an added incentive to cross the plate even when we were beyond tired or a game was beyond reach (and led to over-used catch phrases like "Cha-ching!" "Fitty beans!" and "It's for the kids!"). Thank you again, RCN.

Friday, June 6 -- 8:oo pm
  • This was an interesting one. We took on a team from the Secret Service. Yes, that Secret Service. The guys who protect, and are trained to take a bullet for, the President of the United States. Not a group you want to challenge to physical activity. After an early lead, things went downhill. Mahoney stopped pitching after "only" eight hours, and I was forced to take the mound. Bad move. My right foot began to hurt after my first push off the mound (more on that later). I didn't really see the balls that were hit off me, so much as I heard them...and then saw the outfielders running towards the wall.
  • In addition, my pain and frustration led to me flinging my helmet after making an out, and almost hitting the catcher in the head. The catcher for the Secret Service. The guys who protect the most powerful man on earth. I went over to apologize, and they joked that they knew who I was and where I lived, and they'd be keeping an eye on me from now on. They were joking, right? Right?
OK, let's talk about my foot. It hurt so bad that it impacted my whole experience. I was limping like I just got back from war or something. Gary busted out some "coolant" that he told me to spray on over my sock. He pals around with Rollie and The Wolf, so I listened to him. Mistake. While it did absolutely nothing to alleviate my pain, it did soak my sock so now my foot hurt and was wet. Good combo. Thanks, GP.

The next morning it was so bad that I actually considered the merits of a bedpan, rather than walking the 15 or so feet to my bathroom. My foot was so swollen and red that my wife made me go get it X-rayed. Negative. Grade II strain. 2 hours in the ER (and not the Must See TV kind). Great way to spend a Sunday morning. And you try explaining "24" to a doctor. I did it like this:
"What brings you in today, sir?"
Friday, June 6 & Saturday, June 7 -- 10:oo pm - 2:00 am
  • It all starts to blur together at this point. We whooped some members of the Borough President's office, despite the fact that they fielded 5 infielders and 4 outfielders. There was almost a catfight caused by a foul ball in the dugout. Kimberlee had to explain to her fiancee why she was rooting for him to lose. Liz went into hiding so she could sleep a little and not get hotfooted/shaving creamed/tied to the foul pole/hand placed in warm water/wake up in the parking lot. I had to pitch again, against a team full of supposed minor leaguers (although I doubt that. 9 out of 10 guys who played organized baseball at any point in their life will tell you they played in the minors or were scouted/drafted. It's like the pitcher in the second game who was telling anyone who'd listen that he was clocked at 90 MPH a few years back. He just forgot to mention that he was in a Nissan on the Belt Parkway at the time).
Saturday June 7 -- 2:00 am
  • The Gargiulo's crew hits the field. These guys know how to have a good time. Before I knew it, I was eating a mozzarella, prociutto, and peppers sandwich, and listening to R-rated play-by-play on the PA! Apparently, they also know how to hit. Rocket after rocket sailed into the outfield, so I went to the mound to talk to our pitcher, and give him some emotional and mental support:
Steve: "Every ball is ripped. What am I doing wrong?"
Me: "Pitching."
Saturday June 7 -- 4:00 am
  • Tim (Wall Hooky Hero) Nelson was asleep on the bench. I wanted to light him on fire, but was reminded that he and the other Tim (Big Groundsy Hillert) had been catching every other game, and deserved a rest. Without them, one of us would be called into catching duty, and that was not an option.
  • One of my proudest baseball moments. After almost fainting, throwing up, and thinking my colon may have exploded, I made my way back from the lavatory just in time to put my helmet on and get my at-bat. Double down the line.
  • Line of the day: After making an out, Ricky screamed at the pitcher "Congratulations! You beat a guy that's 90% dead!"
Saturday June 7 -- 6:00 am - 10:00 am
  • The re-birth of a legend. Steve decided that he would take over the pitching duties, and revitalized his career by using the Gyroball. At least he says it was a Gyroball. The rest of us call it a lob that loops over the strike zone and into the catcher's mitt...the kind that is against every rule of the playground. But whatever. It worked. And "Dice-Co" was born. Lucky for Steve, Gary cracked a rib and was on the bench for the last 10 hours, so he had plenty of time to evaluate talent and file his reports to the scout's bureau, so Steve is now awaiting a call from Omar Minaya as a righty specialist out of the bullpen.
  • The sun came up over the leftfield wall. Pretty cool sight to see baseball being played at sunrise.
  • Other than that, I have no clue what happened during these hours.
Saturday June 7 -- 10:00 am - 12:00pm
  • The finish line is in sight. One more Little League team -- full of boundless energy, of course -- and then we're done.
  • I wasn't about to let up, though. I gotta get my hits. I ripped a ball over the right fielder's head...and hobbled into first base just before the throw. The first baseman -- a sixth grader -- looks at me and says, I kid you not:
"You look terrible. How long have you been out here?"
"Since noon yesterday."
His response summed it all up: "That's hell."
  • These Little Leaguers beat us, too. A fitting way to end the last 24 Hours of Baseball ever. Do you hear me, Steve? I am never doing this again...ever. No matter what. Never. Ever. And in case I wasn't clear...Never.
And now, some happy recaps and post-game comments from the people who made 24 possible...the Cyclones staff:
"I feel awful. Absolutely awful. I've never felt worse in my life."
-- Tim Nelson, C

"This was probably one of the stupidest things the Cyclones have ever done...and we've done some very stupid things...but hopefully we helped some kids."
-- Joyce Huang, OF

"I don't care how many kids we helped. I'm never doing this again."
-- Pat Toy, 1B

"This is the most draining, brain numbing thing I've ever done for a good cause."
-- John Haley, 1B

"I'm delusional and delirious right now, and I have no thoughts to give you"
-- Rishi Ragbir, OF

"I always enjoy time to bond with my colleagues, and meet new people. Bringing happiness to the world is always my goal, and I feel like we did that today."
-- Kevin Mahoney, P
(Just kidding...what he really said was unprintable and illegal in 37 states.)

"I'd rather drink gasoline and pee on a brushfire than ever do anything like this again."
-- Ricky Viola, OF

"I think it was great and I can't wait to do it again next year!"
-- Rebecca Schwartz, 2B

"It was the time of my life. Let's never do it again."
-- Brendan McKeon, OF

-- Maverick, Wonder Dog

"Now that the shakes and headaches have worn off, I'm looking foward to a hot shower and some sleep."
-- Elizabeth Lombardi, OF

"I'm happy to be leaving the ballpark, but a little upset that I'll be driving directly to the hospital."
-- Gary Perone, 2B
In all seriousness, I'm extremely proud of what we accomplished, and extremely proud to be a part of this squad. This staff is filled with talented, creative, dedicated people who give everything they have - literally, everything - to the Cyclones. We hope everyone enjoys what we do, and continues to support Brooklyn baseball. We have lots more up our sleeves this summer, and we're looking forward to seeing you at the ballpark! Opening Day is just about a week away. But for now, I'm going back to sleep.

In the meantime, you can watch highlights of 24 on BCTV!

-- Dave

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Do You Feel a Draft?

After months of having to reply to the most commonly asked question -- "So, how does the team look this year" -- (usually being asked by the same people who have been asking it for years now) and having to reply "We won't even know who's officially on the team until just before Opening Day," we're finally in June. And that means that the June Amateur Draft (or "Free Agent Draft," or "First Year Player Draft" -- you hear it referred to in different ways) is almost upon us.

The draft takes place this year on Thursday and Friday, the 5th and 6th. A brief, general overview: players are selected by major league teams, then signed to minor league contracts, then assigned to one of the major league team's minor league affiliates.

Sometimes this process happens very quickly. A player can be drafted on Thursday, signed on Friday, and on a plane to join the group at Extended Spring Training by Saturday. Sometimes it takes much longer. Last season, Eddie Kunz was drafted in early June, then played in the College World Series, was involved in negotiations through July, signed on July 24th, and was assigned to Brooklyn for his pro debut in early August.

Usually, the higher the player is drafted, the longer the negotiations take. Eddie was the Mets' first pick in 2007.

In the Cyclones' first seven years, we've seen impact players who run the gamut. Kunz and Scott Kazmir were two first picks who debuted in Brooklyn, as were third rounders Lenny DiNardo and Joe Smith. But all the great players don't come from the top of the draft. Less heralded draft picks like Ross Peeples (45th round), Jay Caligiuri (13th round), Blake Whealy (13th round), Caleb Stewart (22nd round), Dustin Martin (26th round), and Dylan Owen (20th round) have been among the best players ever to play for the team. Part of the fun for fans is picking out the diamonds in the rough. Anyone can see a top rounder and say "that guy's gonna be good." It's the value picks in the middle rounds that give a team, and an organization, depth.

Anyway, a few days after the draft, we will get a preliminary list of players who will be on the Brooklyn roster -- and that's when the fun begins. My interns and I scramble to get whatever information and pictures we can...calling high schools, colleges, combing websites, contacting family members...whatever it takes to find facts and figures on the guys who will be in uniform for the Cyclones. We have less than a week to gather and edit this information, lay it out in the Media Guide and Game Program, and get the publications printed, shipped, and delivered. And all the while we keep our fingers crossed that the names on the roster won't change dramatically from the time we start printing to Opening Day.

So...these are two big weeks in the ol' Media Relations Department. Stay tuned to see who the Mets select, who'll be reporting to Brooklyn, and who you'll be cheering for this summer. You never know...with each pick the Mets make, you may be hearing the name of your next favorite Cyclone!

-- Dave